Re: [-empyre-]flaws/dangers of art and technology

henry: thank so much for this, you should think about posting this to the
new media curating list, there is a hairy debate raging there now on
determining taxonomies in new media art, including how should it be

I emphathize with your position completely, and sometimes also wonder
"what tact to take" and why can't people get beyond the cliched questions.
at the same time, sadly perhaps, i sometimes find myself asking such
stupid questions of people, when i am feeling lazy. I realize: it can be a
lot of WORK to consider the totality of some technological artworks. which
sometimes has to do with the necessity of understanding how a piece works
in order to appreciate it fully. this learning curve - how does it work,
what is signififcant about how it works, how does function tie to content
- is often a crucial part of the experience. in that sense, it is
different from paintings.

i think this very aspect of technological artworks is problematic and
often not well thought out. to me the question that often seems to present
itself in working on technological artworks is: how much does the audience
need to know about how the piece works, and how does one best convey or
integrate that aspect of it? i also realize that myself and collaborators
benefit from its "new" (not really) or "sophisticated" (not really) aura.
but, really, that is no excuse not to focus seriously on this particular
flaw and danger.


what are the flaws and dangers of working with art and technology......?
> Well, this is a bit off topic, but not too much, so please indulge me. I
> figure this is another discussions, so I made a new subject header.
> I recently had a very similar discussion with a friend about this a few
> days
> ago. We came to different and occasionally opposing conclusions: mine
> based
> more on "the better work deals with content and meaning", he simply
> rejecting the argument with the notion that "the best work is being done
> by
> computer programmers". I think he's being unnecessarily reductive, but
> that's another discussion...
> Firstly, all artists use technology, and while some of it is more or less
> paleolithic,  that's a hair-splitting argument, and I hate those.  When my
> daughter minces my words, it drives me bats, so I won't go there - suffice
> to say: "I know what you're saying" -
> Secondly, one of my continuing gripes about working as an artist who uses
> electronic technology is that I'm always having to "explain myself" to
> people as to my creative process. Look at a painting: do I grind painters
> over whether or not they weave their own linen, grind their own pigment
> from
> solid rock or use nails instead of staples to affix the canvas to the
> stretcher bars? Did they chop down the tree to make the stretchers?
> No.
> But every time I demo my performance cinema work, or make some electronic
> music or do some digital imaging, it's always
> "Well, How In The Hell Did You Do That, Henry?"
> I'm at the point now where half the time I simply paint a goofy smile on
> my
> face (something I do easily) and sing something like "oo ooo ooooo IT'S
> MAGIC!*"
> But then sometimes I'll get dragged into a discussion like
> 1. "Well, several years ago I wanted audio and video projected on screen
> with a tight sync and triggered by a MIDI keyboard with hand operated
> crossfades, and at the time, there wasn't anything that would do that and
> I
> wanted a few other things at the same time (insert bla bla bla) so I wrote
> a
> 20 page specification for an app, and hired a programmer to write it for
> me,
> and (bla bla bla) bingo - what you see before you...
> or
> 2. "Well, for an hour I drove around the city like a lunatic in the middle
> of the night with my video camera duct taped to the passenger seat's head
> rest, and then I brought the footage into Final Cut Pro, and processed the
> living  bejeebus out of it, and then brought it into Photoshop for further
> processing, and viola: the image you see."
> or
> 3. "I recorded myself playing some early stuff by Cage, and I ran it
> through
> this program which mulches the sound like a tree chipper mulches
> vegetation.
> Then I gave it a ton of echo, exported it, re-imported it, then I reversed
> it and dumped it into a reverb turned up to 11. done."
> In each of these conversations, the CONTENT of what I was doing had been
> blithely ignored. The DESIGN of the results hadn't been addressed,
> basically, NOTHING OF SUBSTANCE had been discussed - and that just drives
> me
> nutty.
> I could have said:
> A. "Well, when I found out that my home town was home to an anarchist
> colony
> for a big chunk of the 20th century and since the colony disappeared just
> before I was born, I thought that it would be a way to investigate issues
> of
> social amnesia, local and collective suppression of history, and would
> make
> for a really fascinating video performance by using myself and the history
> of the colony as a lens of investigating my home town as a microcosmic
> analysis of the American Empire."
> or
> B. "The city itself is an interesting place, and by using the automobile
> to
> be "in it" but not really IN it, and with the resulting extremely
> abstracted
> and processed images, I felt that was a worthwhile investigation of class
> and technology. At the same time, it reduces the city to "image value" and
> reifies the existence of those who call it home."
> or
> C. "I think Cage's early piano works were very romantic, and by assigning
> different timbres to the note data in this particular piece, I'm
> fulfilling
> a dream of making the piano be more than a piano - by taking this fissure
> between the note data and timbre implied by the prepared piano into an
> evocative and desolate sound scape."
> But when I do that, I too often get blank stares - too many people don't
> know how to discuss content or sensibility. It's a really irritating
> situation.
> "heheheh - no - really - how did you do that?"
> I should say "I don't discuss process" but that's really unfriendly and
> harsh, so too often, as I noted, I deflect it with humour or I say what I
> think really matters and then deal with the "Deer-In-The-Headlights /
> What?
> / Huh? / You Didn't answer My Question / You're Out of your freakin' Mind"
> look and watch the conversation quickly die.
> "hehe - Yyyyaaa - OKAY Henry - right, see ya...."
> And I find this repeated, over and over and over and over and over. I'll
> go
> to panel discussions, art and technology forums, dinner parties, quilting
> bees - whatever - no one discusses the phenomenal work itself: it's the
> technology that's of interest, it's the process that's of interest - that
> which is pre or proto-phenomenal to the work. I find those points to be
> the
> LEAST interesting things about a given work, but too often it becomes the
> central point, and that's, well, really really disheartening to me.
> It shows that something really crucial is missing from our public
> understanding of what Art can do for us, and how we, as a society, have
> almost no common language for its understanding. Too often it's:
> [Picasso's Guernica == War Is Really Bad. (end of discussion)].
> I have a book on the Guerrilla Art Action Group from NYC, and one chapter
> describes where the GAAG had a "sit in" lecture in front of Guernica at
> the
> MOMA (I think - I'd have to go look at the book - it's upstairs and I'm
> feeling lazy today) and the local constabulary showed up post haste and
> rousted people out, including a mother and child. If someone did that
> demonstration today, they'd be incarcerated as a terrorist.
> Guernica / Fascist / Terrorist / Anarchist / Art / Protest / Meaning /
> Content /
> "Yo - Pablo - how did you do that funny thing with the horse's eye there?"
> Grrrrr....
> Someone wrote:
>>> but rich content
>>> and a new artistic work in terms of methodology and metaphor is often
>>> lacking.
> I don't even find methodology quite as compelling, as much as I do points
> of
> metaphor and meaning and CONTENT. SAY something!!!! It's OK - we're all
> trapped on the same leaf on the vine!
> Or is that too much like arguing about religion?
> {Descriptions(x) [thoughts about (imaginary friends)] -> useless
> dissonance}
> (sound and fury)
> S
> -
> s1
>> what does "new" really mean? (semantics/semiotics/etymology/slang
>> derivation...)
> Those aspects of new are not interesting to me.
> In fact the idea of the "new" and the word "new" doesn't interest me. What
> I
> find more compelling / distressing / inspiring / vexing is what New does.
> I'd like to get into that, but I've shirked work way long enough for
> today...
> HW
> *any technology that can be differentiated from magic is insufficiently
> advanced...
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum

mining the urban landscape

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